New Research Shows Insight Into What Causes REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) is a relatively uncommon sleep disorder in which a person appears to act out dreams. This disorder was first described in 1986. The major abnormal characteristic of RBD is loss of paralysis during sleep. Most vivid dreams occur in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep stage. Motor inhibition loss leads to a wide spectrum of behavioral release during sleep. These behaviors can be violent and sometimes lead to injury to the patient and/or bed partner.

It is estimated that RBD has a prevalence of 0.5% of the adult population. The majority of RBD has no known cause. However, occasionally RBD can be linked to specific brain injuries, like trauma and stroke. The mean onset of RBD is 60 years old.

Wong J. C., Li J., Pavlova M., Chen S., Wu A., Wu S., and Gao X. conducted a study published in the Journal Neurology, using a large-scale community-based study, to examine risk factors (sex, socioeconomic factors, smoking, age, physical activity, caffeine intake, alcohol, obesity, concentrations of lipids and glucose, chronic disease, and smoking) for RBD.

This study used 10,556 Chinese men and 2,228 Chinese women, aged 24 years or and above. Data was collected using questionnaire. The result of analysis revealed a 5.9% prevalence of probable RBD in men and 4.1% in women. The researchers discovered different potential risk factors (taste dysfunction, socioeconomic status, olfactory, head injury, and various cardiovascular risk factors) for probable RBD. It was suggested that future prospective studies  seek to establish a temporal relationship between risk factors and RBD.


-By ASA Contributors  – Edited, Dr. Lin

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